SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Read How Lucy Calkins Ruins A Life in 2023

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Read How Lucy Calkins Ruins A Life in 2023

On March 6 we here at SBSB shared the wisdom of Robert Pondiscio and his thoughts on cult leader Lucy Calkins methods of of abusing children with her failed Reader's Workshop. Later that evening I tweeted Robert and asked him if he had ever shared his thoughts on the other abusive Calkins failure, of Writer's Workshop. He indeed did.

A few things stick out in his article. Just for full disclosure, I have been blessed this year to be at several Writer's Workshop workshops given by 25 year old presenters. I have also been blessed with reading those writer's notebooks that Lucy so loves and must say how amazed I am by the writing in these notebooks. Amazed at how all the bad grammar, spelling, and lack of any writing mechanics whatesoever.

Rob wrote, Of course children will be become better writers if they write personal narratives instead of book reports.

I think, I pray he is being sarcastic with that statement. I know he is, but it got me to wondering.

Yes, the students are always supposed to write about that life experience garbage and make a list of what they can write about because "good writes pick stupid fucking things" from their lives to write about. But how does this help you get a job or show that you understand widgets?

Think years down the road when that student that was abused from years of dealing with the Calkins methodology gets a directive from his boss.

"Jones, I need a report on the widgets we're shipping in from Hong Kong tomorrow, stat!"

Jones, wanting to make his boss happy will undoubtedly say, "Yes sir!" and then proceed to sit at his desk staring into space wondering to himself and scratching his head, "What the fuck is a report?"

Jones scours the Internet to find out how to write that report. Sadly, he has no previous knowledge to assist him and he falls back into familiar habits.

He runs to Staples and buys a black marbled notebook, turns to the front page and writes; "Good writers create reports from life experience about widgets."

He lists everything he knows about widgets excepting the widgets arriving in from Hong Kong the next day.

He then puts pen to paper and and writes his first draft of the report. Sadly it is not a report but more a personal narrative of his knowledge of widgets.

With his first draft, he scampers from cubicle to cubicle in the office looking for a colleague to edit the so-called report. His work colleagues, already with a command of the English language and proper writing mechanics, tell him to "piss off!" whilst laughing hardidly at him.

Ashamed, Jones does the best he can to write the report. When his boss reads it and sees that it is not a report but rather a narrative of Jones' experience with widgets the Boss promptly fires him.

Fired, Jones goes home dejected and explains what happened to his pregnant with twins wife. Fed up at last she tells him that she can not be married to someone so ignorant and promptly orders him to leave their home.

With nowhere to go, Jones moves into the local homeless shelter. He is unable to get Unemployment benefits due to being fired for cause and without medical or dental benefits he can't have the gigantic goiter removed from his neck and see a dental professional for his bleeding gums.

With a goiter and no teeth, not one company will hire Jones. Penniless, homeless, and with a new goiter prominently protruding from the other side of his neck, Jones is left to wander the streets of Morningside Heights ruing the day that his idiot principals, who were mesmerized and brainwashed by Lucy Calkins, allowed him to turn into an writing illiterate.

When things just can't get any worse he sees Lucy Calkins get into her $55k car on Amsterdam Ave. At that moment, he figured out what matters most to Lucy. and it was never him or his classmates.


Anonymous said...

Get a copy of "Shut Up and Let the Lady Teach" by Emily Sachar. Emily was an education reporter for Newsday who took a year off to teach math in a Brooklyn intermediate school. Her writing is extremely insightful. There is a humorous section in the book where one of the Department (then Board) of Education officials explains to Emily why the students *must* keep journals.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100%

Miles said...

You do know that essay writing is a pretty big part of the TCRWP curriculum, right? I agree, there was an over (sole?) emphasis on personal narrative years ago, but that's no longer the case ... and if it is in your schools, someone is doing something wrong.

Anonymous said...

TC units are still useless pieces of crap. Lucy calkins can't teach!

Anonymous said...

What an atrocious bastardization of reality. The only thing to be outraged about here is that your school continues to let you teach. What problem have you solved? What superior curriculum have you put forth? Why do you attack her personally instead of trying to find a way to solve the problem constructively?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I hope your tone and anger is not transferred to your students. You are clearly misinformed about the curriculum.

Anonymous said...

What I don't understand is why are people putting so much trust in Lucy Calkins? She is ONE person with HER OWN philosophy of teaching reading and writing. We use both reader's workshop and writer's workshop at the school I teach. I teach first grade and every year there are about 5 kids with really high reading levels, 5 kids mid-range and the rest are BELOW in their reading levels! Very far below too. I think the workshop works well for kids whose parents already taught them to read before coming to school. But for most kids, because of the focus on independence, they are failing. Who is Lucy to think she has all the answers for teaching reading and writing? Textbook publishers usually have 30 or more professionals contribute to the research to create their curriculum....why is America following ONE person? Just doesn't make sense to me. Also, I heard Lucy was on the committee for Common Core, so, naturally, she would try to influence the committee to align Common Core standards with her program. Also, I'd like to know Lucy's net worth. She writes "curricular calendars" with "draft" stamp on them "because it's always changing and evolving, etc" Well, this means we are constantly having to BUY her stuff! I think I'll write a book and stamp "draft" on it, sell it, then write another every year with "draft" stamped on it so people just have to keep buying my book year after year! Lucy is a clever marketing genius!

Anonymous said...

I'm willing to bet the negative comments come from teachers who don't want to put much thought or effort into lessons. Instead, they prefer to pull out the ole' trusted basal and give everyone the same instruction. I've used the workshop approach for a few years now, and my students have some of the highest scores in the district.

Lucy Calkin's work is based on research. She is not the only one with these ideas. I suggest some of you start reading educational research. Try to prove her wrong with research instead of filthy mouths. Right now, you're not looking too educated. Be a part of the solution, not the problem. Sometimes as teachers we need to reflect on our teaching because the teacher may be the problem.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is ONE approach... but the Units Of Study were researched on a pool is students not representative of the low achieving, high economically disadvantaged students many districts have. It is not intentional in addressing the needs of all learners and does not really all for guided reading and writing groups that true balanced literacy diets thrive on. This curriculum is really not for everyone, but too many people drank the Kool-Aid and think it will magically work. Inquiry based reading and writing has failed before... as did inquiry math. When reading and writing have rules to follow, students performing far below level need those base rules of reading in order to have some base to build upon. Then the TC form of teaching might work. But as many of you know, students are coming with such an unstable base when entering school or have an uneven foundation laid due to (insert any form of disadvantage rampart in society today). Check out the TC intervention book that comes with the Units. It lacks really tools because they have no idea what to do. And in the words of reading coaches and TC groupies in our district, "So, if the lesson didn't work, try it again and just try harder."

Anonymous said...

The teachers and coaches using it in our district use it because they like that it is a packaged lesson that they don't have to think much about. Hence the reason why it is only working with the top 1% of the schools.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad that I found this post and am still able to post. I don't know if anyone will ever read these comments, but maybe there are others out there so incredibly frustrated by the cult of Lucy that they too search the web with the words like "I hate Lucy Calkins" or "Lucy Calkins is the devil" or the one that landed me here "Lucy Calkins destroyed my teaching." I am a teacher with decades of experience. My teaching has been utterly destroyed by the Units of Study. Each of the years I have been forced to use these idiotic programs I see my students doing worse and worse and worse. I've had training, but no amount of training is ever going to change my mind. These units are crap. I'm struggling to switch off my brain and just teach them, but I can't because I know I am doing a disservice to my students. I already work four hours past the end of each teaching day and most weekends. There is no way I am going to plan the way these units require. Why not? Because they are not good teaching. I can no longer integrate my curriculum because I can only have my students read at reading time and write at writing time. It's not allowed at other times of the day and they can only read books that are not their just right level as a special treat maybe once a week. I feel like the child in the Emperor's New Clothes who speaks the truth - Lucy Calkins doesn't work. To my current students and families - I'm sorry you had me as your teacher this year. You did not get my best because I was not allowed to teach my best. To my future students and families - ditto.

Anonymous said...

TRUST ME, there are other teachers finding this post after being frustrated. I think my search term was "Is Lucy Calkins any good?" My district has adopted her UOS for Reading, Writing, and Phonics (PS: we had a phonics program in place that was working great, but we had to fix something that wasn't broken just because it doesn't have LC's name on it).

"It's research based." Really? Whose research? The whole thing started as a curriculum that was made K-2. If I have to tell you the difference between teaching a K and teaching a 2, you obviously don't work in EC education. Some of the stuff I read in the Kindergarten UoS makes me wonder if the authors have ever met a 5 year old, much less taught a class of 20+ with no aide. I'm frustrated, my coworkers are frustrated, and our district is just pulling out the wallet to buy anything she puts her stamp on like she's Oprah.

Any and all boxed curriculum is mainly a product to be sold on the market for profit. If there is any good inside it, it should be a tool in a teacher's toolbox, to be pulled out for a specific use. It should not be the only tool in the box and it DEFINITELY shouldn't be the blueprints for building the entire house.

Dumpster Diva said...

Every few years someone comes along with a new method to teach reading. There might be a bit of good in each of them, but they aren’t the only way. But one thing that they all have in common is that it has made each one very very wealthy!